Vacations are a chance to indulge—and what better way to truly treat yourself than with chocolate? You can even plan an entire trip around pure, cacao-infused bliss. Whether it’s hot chocolate worthy of an overnight flight, edible chocolate museum tickets, or the chance to immerse yourself in a chocolate-centric hotel, there’s a world of chocolate delights waiting, and we’ve got 10 sweet places you shouldn’t miss.
By Dana McMahan
Chocolat Chaud at Angelina
WHERE: Paris, France
You’ll never look at hot chocolate the same after you partake of the impossibly thick chocolat chaud at this opulent Angelina on Rue Rivoli. Your pitcher is served with a side of freshly whipped cream. Ceremoniously pour the molten chocolate into your little cup and raise a toast to Paris—and chocolate.
If you prefer your chocolate in bite-sized quantities, head to the laboratory of Jacques Jenin where shopping for chocolate is akin to buying jewelry. Select each piece from the display case and have it be oh-so-carefully removed by white-gloved staff.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Paris Guide
Chocolate gelato at Vestri
WHERE: Florence, Italy
What’s better than Italy? How about an Italian Chocolate Valley? This area of northern Tuscany is known for its dedication to pure chocolate (no added vegetable oils). For a taste of paradise in Florence, visit the tiny Vestri boutique for some of the finest chocolate imaginable. And strongly consider the dark chocolate and Sicilian orange gelato.
Expect crowds, but the luxurious Turin chocolates at Venchi are worth the wait. And if hitting the shops isn’t enough, plan a visit for next spring’s handmade chocolate fair for tastings, workshops, and lots more.
Where to Stay: Calling the historical Golden Tower homes comes with a nice perk: an on-site Chocolate Bar serving up more than two dozen varieties of chocolate.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Florence Guide
Samples at Maison Cailler
WHERE: Montreux and Broc, Switzerland
For an experience as magical as visiting Willy Wonka’s factory, visit Montreux and board the Swiss Chocolate Train, a 1915 “Belle Epoque” Pullman car, for a round trip journey to Nestlé’s Maison Cailler factory in Broc, where you’ll take a tour and taste the creamy milk chocolate. Bonus: you’ll also visit the Gruyères cheese factory. Or develop your chocolate tasting skills with the tour at Confiserie Poyet in Vevey.
Where to Stay: Sleep where milk chocolate was born, in Vevey. And do it in grand style at the Grand Hotel du Lac.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Switzerland Guide
Museu de la Xocolata
WHERE: Barcelona, Spain
Your tickets are edible. Need we say more? The Museu de la Xocolata will educate you about how Spanish conquerors brought chocolate to Europe from South America—and its inevitable spread. Imagine—what if nobody ever thought to add sugar to cocoa? Take part in one of nearly 20 of the museum’s activities, many of which are family friendly. Revel in the delicious chocolate tastings, sample wine and chocolate pairings, or even paint with chocolate! Ready to swap hot chocolate for haute chocolat? Try one of bubo’s fanciful creations. Or go old school at Pasteleria Escriba, where word has it Ferran Adrià’s favorite chocolate croissants can be found.
Where to Stay: Hotel Principal can guide chocolate-lovers to a cornucopia of chocolate shops.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Barcelona Guide
Mast Brothers Chocolate
WHERE: New York City
Sourcing their cacao from small farms in Ecuador, Madagascar, and Venezuela, Mast Brothers Chocolate creates delicious chocolate confections from scratch at their Brooklyn artisanal chocolate factory. And it’s all chocolate all the time at Jacques Torres’ (also known as Mr. Chocolate) stores. Chocolate in every expression your heart desires can be yours thanks to this French chocolatier. For chocolate lovers who also enjoy macarons, check out Richart Design et Chocolat. The luxurious shop has married the two with the devilishly tempting chocomacs.
Where to Stay: Walking distance from Richart in the heart of Times Square is the Muse Hotel.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New York City Guide
Le Salon du Chocolat
WHERE: Paris, France
When: October 30-Nov 3, 2013
Any excuse will do to visit Paris, but the annual chocolate extravaganza, Le Salon Du Chocolat, the world’s largest show dedicated to chocolate, is as good as it gets. All under one roof, you can inundate your senses with all things chocolate—plus meet some of the world’s top chocolatiers and sample their wares. For a more intimate experience, join the small group (and surprisingly affordable!) visit to Gerard Mulot’s workshop with Meeting the French or splurge on a private, docent-led chocolate walk with Context.
Where to Stay: The Cadran Hotel aims to please “chocolate addicts” with its in-house chocolate bar.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Paris Guide
Chocolate at Place du Grand Sablon
WHERE: Brussels, Belgium
Boutiques ringing the lovely Place du Grand Sablon and its side streets lie in wait for the traveler in need of a chocolate fix. Here in the heart of chocolate nirvana, Belgium, pick from among the likes of Wittamer, Pierre Marcolini and Frederic Blondeel and create your own chocolate-tasting tour—just be sure to try the pralines as well.Choco-nerds can geek out with the history and exhibits at the Musée du Cacao et du Chocolat while home cooks will want to try their hand making pralines at the Planète Chocolat workshops. And if you just can’t get enough join this weeklong chocolate tour of Belgium.
Where to Stay: Plant yourself in the midst of “chocolate heaven” as fans have dubbed the square, and make NH Hotel du Grand Sablon your home base.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Brussels Guide
WHERE: Lima, Peru
Home to some of the world’s best chocolate, Peru is the place to go to see where it all begins. Choco Museo has several locations and can take you on otherwise hard to arrange tours of cacao plantations. The organization also runs museums tailor-made for chocolate fiends (where you’ll learn to make Mayan hot chocolate) and offers hands-on chocolate-making workshops. And the cherry on top? Their cafe in Lima, where you can indulge in iced cacao liqueur, cacao tea, and an “Argentinean submarine”–a chocolate lollipop dipped into steamed milk.
Where to Stay: Sleep in luxury in the same district where the ChocoMuseo is found, at the Miraflores Park Hotel by Orient Express.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Lima Guide
Boucan by Hotel Chocolat
WHERE: St. Lucia
If your dream vacation includes chocolate-spiked cocktails, a cocoa-infused menu, and chocolate-centric spa treatments all in a boutique hotel overlooking at cacao plantation in the Caribbean, your fantasy can be fulfilled at Boucan by Hotel Chocolat. You can also make your own chocolate in a “Tree to Bar” class where you do everything, including roasting your own beans. The hotel’s backstory is sweet, too: the idea for the hotel was born after reading a 1920 copy of Cocoa & Chocolate, Their History from Plantation to Consumer.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s St. Lucia Guide
Chocolates from Fog City News
WHERE: San Francisco
For amazing, obscure chocolates from around the world stop by Fog City News, a newsstand and chocolate emporium. Their massive collection could very well house your next favourite chocolate. Describe to the workers just what flavours you’re looking for and let them consult their chocolate database to find something you’ll love. Chocolate connoisseurs in San Francisco will send you straight to Tcho for blended new American chocolates and free factory tours, and to Dandelion for small batch chocolates and classes. And the city’s abuzz about Michael Recchiuti’s new ChocolateLab cafe.
Where to Stay: Where else but in a former chocolate factory? Sweet dreams are yours at Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s San Francisco Guide